The Rise of Anxiety in American High Schools

November 30, 2016

 

According to the American Institute of Stress, about 25% of all American students suffer from some form of anxiety disorder. That’s one in every four high school students.  

   

When you think of teenagers, you think of having fun and being carefree, not sitting in class shaking and sweating because you don’t want to be called on to answer a question.  Shaking and sweating are just a few of the symptoms that go along with anxiety. Some people also suffer from constant headaches, chills, difficulty focusing, and a feeling of impending doom.

  

Many students develop anxiety because of pressure from teachers and parents, stress, and family issues. School is supposed to be a place for education and fun, not a place that feels like a prison. The college game is more competitive and students have to do well on multiple exams to even be looked at by a university.   

 

Mrs. Bonney, a guidance counselor at Churchland High School, said that she had definitely noticed a rise of students affected by anxiety.

 

“There’s been an increase with each passing year, with more females being diagnosed and medicated,” she said.

 

Women are biologically more likely to have an anxiety disorder than men.  Women have a fight-or-flight response that stays active longer than a man’s.  This is mainly due to estrogen and progesterone activity in a woman’s brain.  Research done at the University of Montreal has found that women don’t produce serotonin as fast as men do.  

 

Anxiety can also run in families.  There are actually a few “anxiety genes.”  Sometimes young children exposed to anxious behavior can pick it up from a parent or relative who has been diagnosed with some form of anxiety.  When looking at treatment options, doctors will investigate to see if a family member has taken an anti-anxiety medication and what their reaction to it was.  

 

In some cases anxiety can stem from a rocky family life.

 

“Some kids are anxious because of their environment and their household,” said Mrs. Bonney. “It’s not stable, or they don’t know what’s going on from one day to the next. There’s no clear routine.”

 

When a student has anxiety, their schoolwork becomes affected by it.  Anxiety can prohibit students from participating in class activities.  Class activities can be as simple as answering a question, or be as complicated as presenting a project.  

 

The rates of anxiety among teenagers is increasing.  Studies show that anxiety is becoming more popular because high school kids are more focused on their future college educations and jobs.  

 

Our culture is becoming more materialistic and society has put more stress on teenagers.  Sometimes money and possessions are more valuable than family and friends.  In order to be able to afford the desired possessions, you need to go to a good college and get a good job.  

 

Anxiety is on the rise among high schoolers, but there are ways to treat and control it.  The use of prescription medication is increasing as well.  A large percentage of adults diagnosed with anxiety take some form of medication.  

 

Anxiety used to be a thing that only a few people had, but now everyone either has it, or knows someone who has it.  

 

It’s not a secret anymore.  

 

 

Artwork: CC0 Public Domain

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